Wednesday, December 08, 2004

You're not the judge of me!

Kieran Healy makes a good case for the Becker Posner blog's being a hoax.

Mr. Healy praises the cunning genius of the blog's author:

After the lead-in sentence, “Posner” is careful not to mention again the war being prosecuted in Iraq. This is a nice move, reminiscent of the best UseNet trolls. When angry bloggers complain that neither the cost-benefit thing nor the analogy to Hitler make any contact with present reality whatsoever, or suggest that the post sounds like it was written in the Autumn of 2002 — or maybe the Winter of 1990 — they’ll have unwittingly set themselves up for a fall: after all, “Posner” was only considering the justifiability of preventive war sub specie aeternitas, not the actual costs and benefits of any particular war the U.S. might or might not be engaged in at present.

Damn, and I fell for it like a ton of bricks with my ignoramus comment about Iraq on "Judge Posner's" blog. Well, fool me once, "Judge," shame on . . . shame on you. Fool me twice . . . won't get . . . won't get fooled again.

Mr. Healy thinks the blog's comments are further evidence of its spurious nature:

Elsewhere on the blog, the absurd suck-up comments from law students are a further indication that the reader is being gamed. Take this one from “Charles”, for instance:

Dear Justice Posner, I am a 2L at DePaul and I just wanted to say that I think all of your legal decisions are brilliant. I think that you and Dr. Thomas Sowell are the most insightful economic minds in the world today

That comment jumped out at me as well when I first read the "Posner" blog, causing me to shake with silent laughter, though being less perspicacious than Mr. Healy I failed to ascertain that the entire blog was a hoax.

The Becker-Posner blog's comments, some intentionally funny, some unintentionally so, continue to crack me up . A few of my faves:

"grave and gathering danger."
What, precisely, standard is that? Alliteration is not a standard. Do the words "grave and gathering" tell us anything? What does it mean for danger to "gather?" Is that when danger's underpants are wrinkled? - Rob

I am arguing that any dictator anywhere in the world can be justifiably killed or imprisoned by any democratic government at any time. - Jason Ligon

One may agree or disagree with any particular analysis of this sort, but the point is that different people have different predictions of what the results of a given preventative action will be, value different sorts of outcomes differently and consequently arrive at very different conclusions about the appropriate courses of action. In other words, this is a question with regard to which the abstract methodological discussion engaged in by Judge Posner is unnecessary and unproductive; as is often the case with economic approaches to geo-political problems, the guise of mathematical rigor disguises an all-too-obvious failure to address the truly complex and nuanced questions raised by the issue at hand. Certain kinds of limited thinkers get excited by this appearance of rigor, thinking that it introduces cool, calm rationality to a problem which has been mired in bluster and vituperations. In reality, however, it only begs all the interesting questions, leaving the difficult analysis for others to perform. Traditional Tradesman (OK, this one isn't "funny" but I liked it. . . .)

Hello Mr. Posner, (Can I call you Dick?) I suspect you are interested enough to read these comments so I just wanted to give a little greeting from a IL at Indiana who is rather tired of reading your opinions in his casebook. We recently covered Indiana Harbor Belt R.R. v. American Cyanamid, and I wanted to ask you if any folks have moved from the polluted ghettos of the south side up into your subdivision like you so compassionately suggested. Perhaps you threw a party for them when they arrived, Bring Your Own Cake. - Corey

I think the "judge" if indeed it is his blog should require future commenters to preface their comments with "May it please the court."


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